Electric Plug-In Cars Consume 300% More Water

March 12 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2008   Rating: 12

According to a recent study published by the American Chemical Society electric plug-in vehicles use-up 300% more water resources than do their petroleum-burning counterparts. The report takes into account the water evaporated during as the electricity these cars rely on is generated.

“In displacing gasoline miles with electric miles, approximately 3 times more water is consumed (0.32 versus 0.07–0.14 gallons/mile) and over 17 times more water is withdrawn (10.6 versus 0.6 gallons/mile) primarily due to increased water cooling of thermoelectric power plants to accommodate increased electricity generation,” assert study authors Carey King and Michael Webber of the University of Texas at Austin.

This could have a big impact on the adoption and use of electric cars in water-scarce areas like the American South-West, China, Africa and the Middle East. In alignment with this possibility, the study, titled The Water Intensity of the Plugged-In Automotive Economy notes that “the impact on water resources from a widespread shift to grid-based transportation would be substantial enough to warrant consideration for relevant public policy decision-making.”

As both water and petroleum are consumed at an increasingly fast rate, this will certainly come into play as nations determine their plug-in policies and may delay the adoption of such vehicles. At the same time, more efficient batteries are likely to gradually offset the water cost.

One thing that is certain is the idea that we must carefully analyze the holistic effects of any new transportation technology, holding it up to the same critical standards that we’ve just recently developed for oil. Unfortunately, in our exuberance, it’s possible that we could do more harm than good.